It may have been turned over to the Virtual Screening Unit. This is a stage in some cases between Reconsideration and the Hearing. An Senior Attorney will review the claim and determine whether a decision can be made "on the record" without the need to have the hearing. The good news is that you cannot be denied at this level. If you are approved, you win. If the VSU attorney determines that an on-the-record determination cannot be made, then you continue on to the hearing.
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It couldalso mean that one of the lawyers in the hearing office where your claim currently is located could be reviewing the file for a possible favorable decision. Anytime someone other than the Judge reviews the file, they often how the power to approve the claim, but if they cannot issue a fully favorable deision, it goes on to theJudge for a hearing. So, this is just anextra bite of the apple.
National statistics suggest that ifyou proceedwithout an attorney at the hearing level, your chances of winning are significantly decreased. If you do not yet have an attorney, I suggest you talk to an attorney in your area so you can review the specific facts with counsel. You may contact your local city, county or state bar association to see if they have a lawyer referral program, or you may contact the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) for the name and email address or telephone number of attorneys in your area. Most attorneys who do any amount of Social Security work are members of NOSSCR and provide a free initial consultation. In any event, no attorney may charge a fee for work on a social security claim until it has been approved by Social Security. The fee limit is a maximum of 25% of past due or back due benefits you are owed, and many lawyers charge less than the full 25%, and the money is not paid until your claim has been approved.
The telephone number for the lawyer referral service of NOSSCR is 1-800-431-2804. NOSSCR's website is www.nosscr.org.
In addition, you can find a Board certified specialist in Social Security by contacting the National Board of Trial Advocacy. They evaluate lawyers (independently) in many types of claims and require extensive experience and testing before a lawyer is certified. They have a section specifically for Social Security: The National Board of Social Security Disability Advocacy, Divisions of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification.
Their link is: http://www.nblsc.us/
You may also contact NADR (National Association of Disability Representatives) www.nadr.org – automated Telephone Referral System at 1-800-747-6131
I hope this information helps. Good luck to you!
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The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information. The information provided by this is general advice, and is not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim without first seeking the professional opinion of an attorney. You should consult an attorney who can can ask all the appropriate questions and give legal advice based on the exact facts of your situation. The general information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Based on how my office runs, I think that just means your attorney knows you're waiting for a hearing, and now it's time for him or her to "develop" your file in preparation for an eventual hearing. "Developing" a file just means gathering up medical records, trying to get a favorable doctor's opinion in the file, and just making sure all the ducks are in a row for the hearing. Sometimes, when my office develops a file, we turn up enough evidence that we can make an "on-the-record request," basically asking someone at the hearing office to consider paying the claim without a hearing, because the evidence is so strong.
That's probably all it means, though, if your file is going to your lawyer's development department. I wouldn't assume it meant anything about what's going on on Social Security's side of things.
Jeremy Bordelon is a licensed attorney in the State of Tennessee only, and is authorized to practice in all Tennessee State and Federal courts, and before the Social Security Administration in any jurisdiction. Please call our firm at 1-866-959-5362 if you would like to discuss your case in more detail. The answers provided on Avvo.com are for information purposes only, and should not be relied on as legal advice. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. In some jurisdictions, this answer may be construed as attorney advertising.